In the run up to the General Election on May 7th, Simpleweb has been contacting local parliamentary candidates to ask how they intend to help startups and small businesses in Bristol.
We asked a bunch of local candidates the following question:
“If elected, how will you help small businesses and startups in Bristol?”
We contacted a number of candidates from different parties. We received replies from 2 Green, 2 Labour, 1 Conservative and 1 Liberal Democrat candidate. We didn’t get a response from any UKIP candidates despite a number of emails, Tweets and phone calls.
Here are all of the responses we received…
Charlotte Leslie, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol North West
“I’ve already run two local jobs fairs, matching jobseekers to prospective employers, and I want to do more to help Bristol businesses draw from the wealth of talent that is available in our constituency. The number of jobseekers in Bristol North West has been halved since 2010, but I won’t rest until everyone who wants work has got it – small businesses have an incredibly important role to play in achieving that.
“If re-elected, I would continue my work of “getting stuff done”, including for businesses – if local employers are experiencing problems with the law or regulation then my door will always be open to them and I will use my position in Parliament to help. I have a strong record on this – when our local pubs were threatened with closure, I helped change the law so that pubs listed as “Assets of Community Value” are better protected by the planning system.”
Tony Dyer, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol South
“As someone who worked for a small building firm before moving on to deliver vocational training as part of an organisation that encouraged SMEs and startups, I feel that my knowledge and experiences can be helpful as an MP in helping small businesses and startups in my home city.
“It is important that the current investigation by the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) into the UK’s small business banking sector, which is due to publish its provisional findings in September, is prepared to contemplate a broad-ranging and holistic approach to banking reform which includes the possibility of breaking up the current market structure to reduce the dominance of a small number of major banks, and as the local MP I would work with local SMEs and the FSB to ensure their views are taken into account by the CMA in order to establish a more dynamic SME banking sector that meets the needs of small businesses in the Bristol area.
“In Bristol in particular, there are opportunities via the Local Enterprise Partnership which has identified SME Business support, including financial support, as a key lever to enable a successful local economy. The LEP attracted £25m from the Regional Growth Fund and used that to develop a campaign aimed at SMEs. At one point, some 150 small business had received £14m of funding which in turn had attracted some £50m of private sector funding. This was expected to deliver 1,000 new jobs whilst safeguarding some 500 existing jobs. However this scheme is now coming to an end and there is a clear need to ensure future funding that is accessible to SMEs and start-ups either through central government grant, alternative sources of finance, or through the creation of a more flexible and dynamic banking sector.”
Darren Hall, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West
“I will oppose the proposed EU-US free trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in Parliament. TTIP is created by big business, for big business, with the prime purpose of enabling global corporations to take more control in order to make more profit. TTIP would scrap rules which protect smaller companies from the dominance of large corporations, with potentially disastrous effects on Bristol’s small businesses.
- Support the Bristol Pound. I tried to pay my electoral deposit in Bristol pounds, but was not allowed! I will work to extend the use of our local currency to ensure as much money as possible goes back into the local economy.
- Work with our fantastic local councillors to stand up for small businesses. Green councillor candidate for Cabot, Annie-Stafford Townsend, is a small business owner herself, owning a hat shop in Millner’s Guild, and if elected will be a voice for independent businesses in Bristol. See an interview with Ani here.
- Stand with Green Party councillors in Bristol in objecting to the proposed mega Sainsbury’s development at the Memorial Stadium, which in a study commissioned by Bristol City Council, is estimated to have a significant negative impact on Gloucester road independent shops, with losses of up to 19% of turnover estimated by 2017. See Green Party work on this issue here.”
Darren Jones, Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol North-West
“As a solicitor in the technology, media and communications team at Bond Dickinson I have a professional understanding of the issues faced by tech and digital companies. For a number of years I’ve also been a startup business mentor with the Prince’s Trust, supporting young people starting their own businesses in Bristol. This experience will therefore inform my work as the local MP.”
Kerry McCarthy, Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol East
“A Labour Government will devolve £30 billion of funding to the city and county regions, so Bristol will benefit from a more co-ordinated, locally-led approach to regional development.
In terms of what I can do personally, I have done some work with groups like the Church Road traders association to support small, independent businesses, eg on Small Business Saturday last year. I’ve also been keen to support Bristol Independents and promote the Bristol Pound, while also opposing the growth of chains that too often crowd out small and new businesses. Recently we led a campaign to stop McDonald’s locating in Fishponds Road, and I am now trying to ensure that a more suitable business takes over the empty premises.
If re-elected, I’ll continue to do what I can to support individual small businesses and start-ups, and work with organisations like Business West, but also to try to raise Bristol’s profile as a creative and innovative, hi-tech hub. Last week I attended the opening of Potato’s new Bristol office – they’re a digital media company, who do urgent projects for Google and Microsoft amongst others – and had some very useful conversations with them about why they’ve chosen to locate in Bristol, and what else they need to encourage their growth.”
Abdul Malik, Liberal Democrat Party Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol East
“Well I’m somebody that has probably more business knowledge than any of the other candidates than we have in Bristol East. I’ve been a businessman for 22-23 years. I know what the issues are for small businesses and I would try to advise government and leaders to try to encourage the environment where small businesses can buy, where they can start up very easily, where local high streets are run by local people. I would also encourage things like the Bristol Pound and the Federation of Small Businesses Meet Your Buyers, or anything that will help small businesses in a local area that are starting up to find the right buyers and suppliers and customers and I think those type of things need to be promoted more. All the MPs in Bristol [need to] actually start talking together about Bristol as a whole because that’s why we’re in parliament.”
The Conservative response focused mainly on reducing unemployment and offering an open-door policy for businesses in need of support.
The Greens said they’d be routing for a more dynamic SME banking sector that meets the needs of small businesses in the Bristol area, and were also keen on securing future funding for business initiatives in the city. They want to protect small companies from big companies and support the Bristol economy through the Bristol Pound.
Labour will also support the Bristol Pound and oppose the opening of large chain businesses to make way for local independent companies. They want to raise Bristol’s profile as a creative technology hub.
Liberal Democrats will again support the Bristol Pound and work to bring all Bristol MPs together to focus on the issues as one.
While some responses were more in-depth than others, none of these answers really gave a comprehensive insight into how your vote could affect local businesses. If you want to know what your local parliamentary candidates can do for you, get in touch with them today, you should be able to find all their contact details online.
Be sure to check out what happened when we asked startup founders, accountants and investors how they thought the result of the general election would affect startups and small businesses.